Creating non-toxic food isn't just about buying healthier foods or cooking at home; you have to make sure your cooking space and habits aren't home to hidden chemicals. While I've been detoxing my kitchen and cooking practices, I've come across a few easy tricks to lighten your chemical load in the kitchen. Try these top five, cheap and easy tips to take chemicals out of your cooking:
Watch your water: Remember that filtered water isn’t just for drinking. Make sure you also filter your water if you’re boiling water or using water as an ingredient in a dish. If you don’t have a filter, the Green Guide recommends placing an open container of water in the fridge for a few hours, which helps filter out chlorine, and let water run for a full minute before you use it for cooking or drinking.
Save energy: Speed up boiling time by covering your pots. You can cook beans and chickpeas much faster if you presoak them overnight, then boil them. When it comes to using your oven, preheating is a big waste of energy. Alexandra Zissu recommends skipping preheating and being smart about how often you check on items in the oven, since opening and closing the oven door is another sneaky way to waste energy.
Wash the rinds and peels: Wash all of your produce, even produce with inedible peels and rinds. It’s especially important to follow this rule if you’re slicing through the peel, since chemicals from the peel can transfer into the fruit’s flesh through your knife. If you’re zesting citrus fruits, make sure to scrub the peel and try to buy organic. You should scrub fruits and veggies for about 30 seconds each, which you can measure by singing the Happy Birthday song twice.
Pay attention to your soaps: A good chef knows that clean hands are one of the most important tools in the kitchen. So pay attention to what you’re putting on those clean hands! Chemicals from soap can transfer from your hands into the food your handling. Keep your hands clean with non-toxic soaps; you can find safer soaps on the Skin Deep database. The same rule applies for dishes: If you’re working hard to keep toxic chemicals out of of your foods, don’t ignore what your serving food on. Wash your dishes thoroughly with non-toxic dish soap. You can look up healthier dish soaps on the Good Guide.
Lets talk about kale: Kale! It’s everywhere. I cannot go to a food blog without stumbling upon a new kale recipe. Kale is delicious, super healthy, and more difficult to clean than your average green. We’ve talked about rules for cleaning produce before, but kale needs a special rule because of aphids, aka tiny grey bugs, that frequently show up on organic kale. When you’re preparing kale, soak it in a copious amount of salted water to remove dirt and aphids. After soaking, you can even briefly boil or steam in salted water to remove leftover aphids.